After their robot took extreme damage in the first round of the Robotics World Championships, the Springbank Community High School robotics team bounced back to prove they could compete on the global stage.
The Robotics World Championships were held in Houston, TX from April 19 to 22. Students from Springbank’s high school in west Rocky View County had the opportunity to showcase their skills at the competition.
Computer science and robotics teacher at Springbank Community High, Bobby Mathews, said the team needed to compete at multiple competitions earlier this school year before securing their berth at the world championships.
Making their accomplishment all the more impressive is that the Robotics Prairie Division, which includes Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba is a notoriously challenging one to compete in.
“The prairies are a very difficult conference to come out of,” Mathews said. “It’s very competitive.”
Students of the robotics team were thrilled to hear they would get to compete at this year’s worlds in Houston.
“It was so awesome,” Mathews said. “Everybody started screaming. It was pretty fantastic when we realized the opportunity that we were going to go to the world championships.”
However, shortly after stepping off the plane in Houston, things started going downhill for the team.
“Our transport through the air, they actually flipped the robot, it came rolling down the trolly,” Mathew said. “All of a sudden [we] heard a scream and it was our robot coming down.”
The incident at the airport impacted their performance on the first day, Mathews said, dropping their team in the rankings from 11 to 43.
“It was such a bad day,” Mathews said. “There was nothing we could do.
“We were holding the robot together with duct tape and zip ties, and the wheels coming off.”
High school student and member of the robotics team, Tristan Parker, said the airport mishap was disheartening, but it forced the team members to keep moving forward.
“That was super difficult for us,” said Parker. “We had to persevere through that, keep our hopes high and try to keep going back to the extra competitions even though we knew we might not do super great at them.”
Working late into the early morning, the team came together to rebuild their robot, and the revamped bot proved to be a force to be reckoned with the next day.
“We didn’t go out for dinner that night. We came back to the hotel, and everybody started working on the robot,” said Mathews. “They finished at 3 a.m.”
Showing up to the competition venue at 7:30 a.m. the following day, the coders worked quickly to get the robot ready for competition.
“Our coders were trying to code the robot in 25 minutes and as they’re walking,” said Mathews.
In the face of hardship, the second day of competition showcased the Springbank students’ resilience, as they won every battle that day.
But due to their rough start, they were unable to make it to the playoffs. Nevertheless, Mathews said they look forward to competing again in the future.
“We will be better and stronger the next time we go back,” he said.
Mathews said he was proud of his students for showing great maturity and perseverance in the face of hardship.
“It’s like a proud father moment,” he said. “They did that frontier mentality and that’s what we take every time we go into a competition. We can fix stuff and we can make stuff happen.”
The teacher said he wants his students to know they are capable of doing anything, as long as they work hard.
“One of our mottos is dream big, but the other part is not only do you dream big, but you have to be able to follow through on those dreams,” he said. “Anything is really possible.”
Another Springbank Community High School student who attended the event in Houston was Lachlan Lenz, who said the experiences in Texas taught him some valuable life skills about persistence and perseverance.
“That’s something that we can apply to almost every facet of our lives,” he said, adding he is thankful for his teacher and everything Mathews has done to support the robotics team this year.
“There’s a great deal of respect that I have for him,” he said. “The amount of time and hours that he’s put into the program where he otherwise didn’t have to, I’m very appreciative of it.”